Picture of utility marking flags

While there are tremendous benefits to being located in a growing, dynamic area like Iowa City, the associated construction also creates an operational challenge for our district in the form of fiber optic cable cuts.

Earlier this week, three of our schools lost internet and network connectivity for several hours due to a construction-related cut of district-owned fiber optic cable. While these accidents are never intentional, they’ve impacted us far too frequently, including a major fiber optic cable cut at the end of last school year between Iowa City and Des Moines that impacted our internet service provider for almost 24 hours and an incident in 2019 that resulted in nearly 1,000 feet of district owned fiber optic cable being wrapped around a piece of rotary construction equipment. While our network has substantial redundancy that results in most cuts going unnoticed by our students and staff or only impacting services for a few minutes, these large-scale incidents result in substantial disruption of our classrooms and school operations.

We are working within the ICCSD Department of Technology & Innovation to improve redundancy, in terms of physical cabling as well as district-provided services and internet access resiliency. Our secondary data center at Liberty High School, which was board approved a number of months ago but is still awaiting components due to supply chain issues, will allow us to mitigate disruptions from this sort of incident to a substantial degree.

That said, there are steps that you can take to help us, and other organizations and residents in Iowa City who rely upon internet and network services, avoid issues resulting from fiber cuts in the future. If you’re planning to dig in or around your yard or other property, make sure to visit https://www.iowaonecall.com/ or call 811 prior to digging! Our fiber optic cables, along with buried electrical, water, sewer, gas and other underground utilities will be surveyed and marked, allowing you to dig with confidence and keeping you, family members, and coworkers safe, while contributing to the integrity of resources like ICCSD’s internet access.

If you’re in a position to dig, I’d encourage you to check out Iowa One Call’s Homeowner resource page, or reach out directly to Iowa One Call with questions or to get more information.

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